Greetings during this season of back-to-school preparations during which our children, our families, our teachers and so many of our educational and other formational programs are either already underway or preparing to begin. It is a time of great activity and a time when we are reminded of the gift of relationships, the gift of our children and the gift of life.
Our children are precious to us and threats to their life, dignity and well-being are a threat to the life of our community, to all of us. So many of us have seen or heard of the recent video exposé on the practice of commodifying and profiting from baby organs and blood, consent for which in the latest video appears to happen at times even before women consent to having an abortion. This latest series only goes to deepen moral outrage at an organization for which abortion makes up a significant portion of its business and revenue and yet it consistently obscures that fact. In addition, many of what are claimed to be essential health care services are actually only referrals, begging the question: why not divert federal funds instead into community health centers that do provide basic medical care nonviolently?
Grassroots activists are standing up and speaking out against both the practices revealed in the recent videos and the abortion industry itself in a series of rallies. In response to what Saint John Paul II referred to as the “culture of death” and what Pope Francis calls a “throwaway culture,” opposition that is prayerful and peaceful and in celebration of life is welcome. The Church has long supported and led pro-life work, sustaining a concern for the life and dignity of the human person from conception to natural death.
In the Diocese of Orange, the office of Life, Justice and Peace, along with the office of Pastoral Care for Families in All Stages and others, work together to promote a culture of life in our families, parishes and broader community, addressing not only the social justice questions around life but the need for healing and hope for those whose lives have been hurt by abortion, domestic violence and many other kinds of trauma. We actively support the work of local pregnancy centers, shelters and clinics such as Obria, which are providing practical services, health care and holistic care, meeting the needs of women, men and children, and offering life-affirming choices. There are many opportunities to engage the legislative process as well, through the Catholic Legislative Network (of the California Catholic Conference) and NCHLA which does pro-life legislative advocacy in concert with the U.S. Bishops.
Let us come together as one community of faith to celebrate life together. May our witness always invite others into the joy of the Gospel, even as we have an obligation to speak with truthfulness, love, humility and prudence when the life and dignity of the human person is diminished or attacked. The Gospel calls us to care for and to defend those threatened at the margins, whether in the womb or at the end of life, children, mothers and fathers who are separated and locked up as immigrant detainees, people of color who are treated different by the criminal justice system, and persecuted religious minorities around the world. Let us remember the need to protect all children, every person made in the image and likeness of God.
In light of the recent revelations around the Planned Parenthood videos, I invite a renewed commitment to the Gospel of Life. May this be a time to become more engaged in the opportunities provided in your community and in your parish to participate in the social mission of the Church. In addition, please keep in mind our ongoing ministries and opportunities for participation:
September 1 – World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (first annual, following the celebration of the Orthodox Church)
September 2 – Former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson speaks at Christ Cathedral
October – Respect Life Month of many parish activities (including the Pennies from Heaven campaign to support local pregnancy clinics, centers and shelters)
October 3-4 – Respect Life Sunday
October 7-9 – The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church
October 10 – Diocesan Ministries Celebration
October 24-25 – Domestic Violence Awareness Sunday
November – Catholic Campaign for Human Development (as part of the National Needs Collection)
December – Several parishes mark the Feast of the Holy Innocents (Dec. 28) with a Mass in memory of children lost for any reason
January 1 – World Day of Peace
January 3-9 – National Migration Week
January 11 – National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
January 22 – Evening Prayer for Life at Christ Cathedral
January 23 – OneLife LA: Join thousands in declaring a commitment to valuing and protecting all human life, particularly the most vulnerable in our community.
January 30 – Congreso ProVida y Evangelización: A Spanish-language conference to energize leadership and build collaboration in prolife work around life, family, immigration and more in the Latino community.
February 8 – International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking
February 10 – Ash Wednesday begins Lent 2016
- CRS Operation Rice Bowl
- 40 Days for Life
Finally, please remember to pray for all vulnerable children. Here is a portion of a prayer from Catholic Relief Services titled “Lord, Protect the Child”:
Lord, you came among us as a vulnerable child:
A poor, homeless refugee boy.
Help us see your face in the faces of all children and youth.
Make us their protectors,
Their companions and helpers;
And so, make us more like yourself.
– The Most Rev. Kevin W. Vann, Bishop of Orange